This morning I didn’t have class until noon, so I woke up slow, did a lot of reading for pleasure in my room (what a concept, right?! I have so much time I can just read books for FUN!), and decided to head over to my class early so I could walk around and relax beforehand. I was feeling all good about myself, got my backpack packed up, and went out to the bathroom to fill up my water bottle before gathering the rest of my things to go. You always have to carry your key here cause everything locks, so I thought I was all set, key lanyard in one hand, trusty Nalgene in the other, but when I returned to my room and unlocked the padlock on my door the door wouldn’t open.
No big deal. It must just be stuck.
I tried it again.
Nope. That door was definitely locked, even though the padlock that locks it was entirely off the door.
Insert assorted “Hannah is v concerned but trying to be cool about it” noises here.
I tried it a few more times and then decided to knock on my RA’s door and see if she knew anything about how to fix the doors. I am a CA at Grinnell (which is our version of an RA), so I thought this might even be a cool chance to turn the tables and be the distressed resident locked out of her room and banging on the RA’s door asking for help for once, though that bothered me because I pride myself in never being a person who would lock herself out and need help. (And yes, I recognize the hypocrisy of this coming from someone who always tells people not to be afraid to ask for help)
After about 5 minutes of knocking and hearing someone inside, L came to the door and simply said “Yes. I was the one who locked your door. I can’t live in a place like this anymore”
I stared at her blankly. Surely I was missing something here.
She then came out and pointed at the communal sink, where about a half cup of corn flakes were clogged in the drain. “I can’t live in a place like this anymore,” she repeated.
“Oh, I’m sorry, that’s really unfortunate,” I tentatively replied, still super unsure about what she was trying to say and how this related to my room being locked.
“Did you spill the cornflakes”
“What? No, no that’s not mine, but I can clean them up if you want me to” (Alex, if you’re reading this, that’s my classic “Go get it” “Okay!” moment coming out)
She looked at me like I was from Mars and replied “No… unless you were the person who spilled them. I just locked everyone’s doors so they have to come to me if they want to get back in their rooms… so I’ll find the person.”
At this moment, the CA inside me wanted to just be like “wait WHAT? You did WHAT? You can’t just lock people out of their rooms so you can figure out who spilled cornflakes in the sink! What about self-gov! But then I remembered that I’m not at Grinnell anymore and that’s not a thing.
She let me back in my room, but sort of followed me inside and I had a moment where I was sure she was going to search my room for the contraband cornflakes (not to worry, folks, I only have Rice Krispies in my room).
I packed enough things to last me most of the day in my backpack and headed out, planning to just come back long after the cornflake debacle had passed over. I returned at about 2:30 and my room was still locked, so I gave up and eventually went out to dinner with some friends, but it was all an interesting experience. I was able to get back in my room when I came back tonight, and the cornflakes are no longer in the sink
So the next time people leave rotting food in the James pit fridge, or clog the sink with beef stew, or break a chair and won’t fess up to it, do I just figure out a way to lock them out of their rooms? Botswana is teaching me a lot.